Special Needs

Adaptive Water Sports for NYC Kids with Special Needs: Swimming, Boating, Water-skiing & More

For NYC kids, one of the greatest pleasures of summer is getting all wet in pools, at beaches and on boats. However, for children with special needs like my son, water play can spark a variety of anxieties and sensory issues.

Happily, the tri-state area is home to a number of adaptive water sports programs specifically tailored to children with autism and other special needs. So they can learn to swim, sail and even water-ski in a supportive and understanding environment. Bonus: Many of these special needs water play programs are FREE or inexpensive.

5 Special Needs-Friendly Amusement Parks Near NYC

Most of my kids love amusement parks. For my three little ones, there is no ride too big, too scary or too fast (though the height restrictions sometimes say otherwise). As our family balloons to five children this year, amusement parks are becoming more of a luxury (all of those tickets add up). But what makes an amusement park outing even more challenging for us than money is our teen with special needs. Unlike his siblings, he's not a fan of rides, screaming children, roller coasters or that big bucket that dumps water on everyone's heads. So it takes a lot of planning to have a successful theme park experience with my brood.

Luckily, there are five wonderful theme parks near New York City that can accommodate my son with special needs while still delivering a thrilling time for the rest of my family. Most are within a two-hour drive of Manhattan (also good if your children with special needs hates being cooped up in a car, like mine). A few have park-wide special needs programs in place; the others host special needs-friendly days when the usual sensory triggers (all the screaming and loud music and lights) are kept to a minimum. Here are five special-needs friendly amusement parks near NYC.

10 Summer Camps for Westchester Kids with Special Needs

For children with special physical, emotional, learning or medical needs, it can often be difficult to find summer camp programs designed specifically with their challenges in mind. While many traditional summer camps can accommodate a child with some minor needs, those designed to play on the strengths of special needs children while helping them develop in areas of weakness can often offer campers an experience unlike any other. 

We've rounded up ten summer camps in and around Westchester County that cater to children with special needs, providing individual attention with low staff to student ratios coupled with programs designed to let kids have fun, learn and explore while developing social skills and confidence in a nurturing and safe environment. Read on for more details on special needs summer camps in Westchester and the lower Hudson Valley area. Looking for more camp options? Check out our ever-growing Summer Camp Guide and our Camp Directory

Overnight Summer Camps for Kids with Food Allergies in CA, OR, & WA

With summer right around the corner, parents have a lot of planning on their plates to ensure a fun-filled time away from school. There are many overnight camp choices for kids without dietary restrictions, but let's face it: for those who do have dietary concerns - gluten-free, peanut-free, vegan, or other needs - the list is not as long. For those moms and dads who want overnight camps as a potential activity for their kids this summer, here's a list to consider, especially if diet is a concern.

The following camps are located throughout the west of the US and have a focus on special diets and accommodating food allergies.

6 Sensory Play Spaces in Westchester

In recent years, Westchester County has seen an explosion in the number of parents seeking services, enrichment and experiences for children who experience sensory information in non-standard ways. In response, businesses and institutions across Westchester have created programs to match the needs of local families. While there are many places where parents can go for occupational and physical therapy, there are also times when kids just want to do what kids do best--play! We found six local gyms and play spaces that open their doors to kids who experience the world in unique ways, helping them develop motor skills, core strength, balance, coordination, sensory integration and more in a fun and engaging way.

Play Time for Long Island Children with Special Needs

Play time is crucial to childhood development—it teaches children basic sensory functions, as well as how to interact and get along with the people around them. Playtime with a child with special needs can be tricky because most organized play spaces aren’t adaptive to the needs of some children. Luckily, Long Island has all kinds of play areas geared toward all children.

And for more kid-friendly activities, be sure to check out our Long Island Events Calendar.

Our New Camp Guide and Business Listings with Improved Search & Features

Last fall, we asked our readers to take a short survey and share their thoughts about how to improve our Summer Camp Guide. Overwhelmingly, we heard that you wanted a combination of our editorial recommendations, plus the ability to search listings and find recommendations from other parents.

So we're happy to debut our newly updated Camp Guide and our Camp Directory, now featuring an improved search, parent reviews and star ratings, and other enhancements. Even better: Our overhauled Directory isn't just for camps. We have listings for party places and services, and enriching classes, too.

Read on to find out more or head straight to our Day Camp Guide and Directory to browse the listings and leave reviews for your favorite programs.

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